Make do with what you have and hang in there!

I just put my November 2011 TV Demo up, which includes two stories I did this week.  Both are Military Matters stories (we have franchised labels for certain story categories so our viewers identify the label with KSWT).  The one I did yesterday concerns the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Act.  The woman I interviewed (Rosario Zavala) protests outside of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office every Thursday after work to bring awareness to a so-called loophole in the SGLI law, which states that a designated beneficiary must be made and delivered prior to the death of the service member.  You can read the web version of the story here.  This is a breaking news story that I intend to follow because it involves politics (Congress).

The other is a military homecoming story on Marine Attack Squadron 214.  We got the call at our station that VMA-214 was arriving in “six minutes,” a half-hour before our media check-in time.  I couldn’t find a tripod (all were checked out) and no vehicles were available.  Sometimes, you have to think quickly and go with your gut feelings.  I grabbed my gear (sans tripod), headed for my car (which happens to have a military sticker) and drove off.  Doing so saved me an incredible amount of time going through security.  One of the PAO’s escorted me to the VMA-214 hangar bay and I got the story.

One-man banding is tough work!  But as crazy as this may sound, I’m grateful for the experience of doing mostly everything myself.  Don’t let equipment limitations deter you from telling a great story.  One day, I had to use my Flip camcorder to do a package simply because we had a shortage of camcorders at my station (more reporters, less resources).  Nobody could tell I used a Flip when it aired.

I’m just dreaming of the day where I’ll get to shoot with professional-level camcorders.  Someday. 😉

2011 San Diego Press Club Awards

I received two third-place San Diego Press Club awards last week Tuesday in the Television division.  One was for Specialty Reporting:  Series (Crisis in Quartzsite) and the other was for Specialty Reporting:  Single Report (Arizona Medicare).  I know these competitions are very competitive and the fact that I work at a small TV station (DMA 166) and San Diego is a major market (DMA 28), I feel pretty darn good!

Here’s a link to my October 2011 TV Demo.  I’m trying to keep my work fresh (as always).  Sometimes it’s hard to keep up my WordPress blog because of what I do at work.  Besides one-man banding (shooting, editing, producing, writing, fronting on-camera, etc.), I have to post my stories on the KSWT News 13 website too.  And I don’t stop there!  I also link the web article to our station’s Facebook page and my Facebook Reporter Ruth Castillo page.  Yes, lots of work!  I’m very happy my Facebook Reporter page is linked to Twitter because whatever story links  I put on Facebook goes directly to Twitter.  That way, I finish my job quicker and get to go home sooner. 😉



Stories get interesting when the weather gets dramatic

Power outages, storm damage, a humongous ($65K) water bill and a leaky roof were some of the stories I covered this month (September).  I put my September demo up on YouTube so please let me know what you think.  (Any suggestions for improvement would be greatly appreciated.)  I also have some stories on our KSWT News 13 website.  (We have to post our stories online after we produce and front them.)  One recent story that’s not on my demo is the second follow-up to the $65K delinquent water bill story.

Keep it fresh: update that TV demo

KSWT News 13's Ruth CastilloOkay, here’s my latest demo:  three plasmas followed by four stories that I shot, edited, produced and fronted between July 13-19, 2011.

The first story is my ride along with the California Highway Patrol in Winterhaven, CA.  Except for the interview with Ofc. Steve Gronbach, everything else was hand-held.  You have to just “go with the flow” when you’re riding with the CHP.  I found traveling 124 m.p.h. to catch a speeder quite thrilling!   We use a pro-sumer Canon Vixia-type camcorder at our small-market station.  To compensate for our equipment’s shortcomings (namely audio quality), I created the subtitling in Adobe Premier.  (We work with both Premier and Grass Valley Edius at our station.  You become “fluent” in both systems because you have to work with whatever edit bay is available.)

The second story deals with U.S. Army’s emergency preparation exercise at Yuma Proving Ground.  Weeks before the Army installation’s actual “table top” exercise, the YPG Public Affairs Office asked our station to create a simulated “breaking news story” for its training event.  The YPG Emergency Operations Center gave us this scenario:  high winds cause a train derailment north of YPG (as confirmed by Union Pacific)…toxic chemicals on-board are blowing towards the installation…base communications are down…only forms of working communications are Twitter and Facebook.  KSWT News 13 anchor Jennifer Jones, our production crew and I completed the “breaking news” simulation two weeks before YPG’s live exercise on July 18.  I set up and shot my simulated “live shot” in one take, as YPG Public Affairs’ Yolie Canales and Operations Center Manager Robert Berocio will attest.

I shot, edited and produced the last two stories (Boxer Pup Adoptions and Yuma Millionaire) in an eight-hour work day.  Our assignment editor wanted me to shoot a VO/SOT of Ted Gaffin, who won $1.9 million in the Arizona Lottery before I headed out to interview Billie Ciotti, a 13-year-old aspiring veterinarian and volunteer at the Humane Society of Yuma.  After shooting the interview with Gaffin, I called our assignment editor while en-route to Ciotti’s house.  “Hey, let’s make this (Yuma Millionaire) a pack!”  I just love how things worked out for the two stories.  I need to have more days like this! 🙂

A New TV Demo!


I put a new TV demo together of some of my work and posted a link on my YouTube page.  I haven’t been updating this blog since I started working at KSWT-TV 13 (CBS) in Yuma, Arizona as a Reporter/Producer/Anchor.  There are some stories that I wished I kept because our station only archives tape for 30 days worth of shows.  I’ve been working at my station for 14 months.  Time sure flies by! 😉

What about that little Sony MC 50?

Since returning from APTRA Prep and NAB, I had a job interview and a job offer all within the same week!  So if you’ve been waiting for an update to my NAB adventures, I apologize.  Someone reading my blog asked me to elaborate on Sony’s upcoming HXR-MC50.  Like I said previously, the Sony rep I spoke with said the camera won’t come out until June.  When I returned to the Sony booth the next day (Tuesday, April 13) and asked another Sony rep for written specs on this new camera, she said there wasn’t any (since it just announced early that week.)

While there isn’t any MC50 specs on the Sony Broadcast website right now, take a look at Sony’s VideOn site of showcased Sony products at NAB (Video on Sony’s MC50 is under the heading “Affordable HD – NXCAM, HDV & Studio Configs.”)  Here’s some Flip Video of the MC50 I took at NAB, up close and personal.  I forgot to mention that the Sony rep with whom I spoke with initially said the camera doesn’t shoot in 24p, which shouldn’t be a deal breaker for videojournalists on a shoestring budget.

Playing with Techie Toys at NAB

I met my dream camera this morning, the Sony HXR-NX5U!  This morning, Sony announced that they’re coming out with the HXR-MC50E, which is much smaller and similar to the NX5U…BUT it’s only a 1/3-inch single chip camera.  So with just one chip, how would light sensitivity be on the MC50E?  (The NX5U is 1.5 lux.)  I was surprised to find out from the Sony rep that the MC50 will have a light sensitivity of 3 lux, the same light sensitivity as some of the three-chip Panasonic P2 cameras.  Anyway, I still need to get more details on this new “techie toy”.  Sony says the MSRP is at $2,300, but will probably retail between $1,600-1,800.  It’s small, folks…you’re going to need a stabilization counterbalance like some of the ones we saw at the Stedi-cam booth.

More on this later…we have to go back to the Expo.  See you soon! 🙂